On 28th February this year, the Ministry Of Defence published a collection of 'Useful Fiction'. A set of short, fictional stories to 'spark discussion and creative insight which might challenge established thought'.
As a sciece fiction writer myself, I have long been a practitioner and proponent of 'useful fiction.' Over the years I have worked with organisations across many different sectors using this approach that I have, up until recently, termed 'design fiction'. It is rooted in 'the rules of the real,' including a blend of trends and data, but also sets free imagination and creativity and conveys insight through narrative. Useful fiction explains and explores the most important elements of our combined technological and human futures. It does so with empathy in a way that white papers never could, by appealing to the human heart as well as to the mind. It is of immediate impact and as the MOD itself says, 'The value of useful fiction lies not merely in its greater engagement, but in how it promotes understanding, action, and connection.'
To make good investment decisions today to develop products and services for tomorrow that are agile and resilient, science fiction writers such as myself can help. As Professor Dame Angela McLean - Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence - says: "The writers of this genre have been years ahead of their time in predicting the modern world around us from the internet and mobile phones to the electric submarine and driverless cars." I would typically work alongside traditional research and strategy teams, but also harness the latent talent within organisations.
The recent surfacing of ChatGPT and other generative AI technologies has shown how the future can accelerate.
If the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory of the MOD is taking 'useful fiction' seriously, shouldn't you do so too?
Feel free to contact me to find out more.
The future is coming. Ready?
Ref: 'Stories From Tomorrow: exploring new technology through useful fictionStories From Tomorrow: exploring new technology through useful fiction' by the MOD